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J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2006;3:2. doi: 10.3352/jeehp.2006.3.2. Epub 2006 Jul 8.

Test equating of the Medical Licensing Examination in 2003 and 2004 based on the item response theory.

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National Health Personnel Licensing Examination Board, Seoul, Korea.


The passing rate of the Medical Licensing Examination has been variable, which probably originated from the difference in the difficulty of items and/or difference in the ability level of examinees. We tried to explain the origin of the difference using the test equating method based on the item response theory. The number of items and examinees were 500, 3,647 in 2003 and 550, 3,879 in 2004. Common item nonequivalent group design was used for 30 common items. Item and ability parameters were calculated by three parametric logistic models using ICL. Scale transformation and true score equating were executed using ST and PIE. The mean of difficulty index of the year 2003 was -0.957 (SD 2.628) and that of 2004 after equating was -1.456 (SD 3.399). The mean of discrimination index of year 2003 was 0.487 (SD 0.242) and that of 2004 was 0.363 (SD 0.193). The mean of ability parameter of year 2003 was 0.00617 (SD 0.96605) and that of year 2004 was 0.94636 (SD 1.32960). The difference of the equated true score at the same ability level was high at the range of score of 200-350. The reason for the difference in passing rates over two consecutive years was due to the fact that the Examination in 2004 was easier and the abilities of the examinees in 2004 were higher. In addition, the passing rates of examinees with score of 270-294 in 2003, and those with 322-343 in 2004, were affected by the examination year.


Education, Medical; Item Response Theory; Test Equating; licensing Examination

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